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The Break-Up Bloodsport
Although popular culture doesn’t contain many examples, the American male handles relationships in a similar fashion to Malcom X’s approach to civil rights – “By Any Means Necessary.” Famous break-up movies (we can go down the list, I won’t waste your time) have created a myth that men seek to mend their broken hearts by becoming raging alcoholics or sensitive romantics. In a more laughable contrast, Hollywood paints the picture of men with broken hearts seeking advice from their sister a la Lloyd Dobbler in Say Anything. Let me be clear – if a guy has a sister, he either ignores her or beats up her boyfriend. That’s the extent of the relationship.
Today, for some mind-numbing reason, the image of the disheveled quirky hipster seems to have captured the imagination of America. This unexplainable fascination with spoiled rich kids that ‘rebel’ by adorning wordy tattoos and vintage underwear has led to a new image of the male breakup experience: men are like boys, they are sad puppy-eyed fools that create mix tapes and cry in the shower. Today’s James Dean wears a cardigan sweater and horn-rimmed glasses. This trend actually offends me and with that said, fuck Michael Cera. Here is the reality of how men deal with break-ups – not the comic-book version.
Men, by their very nature, approach a breakup with the ferocity of wounded animal seeking food in the wilderness. We do not complain or vent – we challenge our ‘ex’ to a battle of the sexes by any means necessary. Although popular culture, in turn reality, has done away with the ‘bad ass’ rebel without a cause, men will always aspire to be rebels in one form or another. Stripped away of our BlackBerry, flannel shirt, and Ray-Ban glasses – men are savage animals that love sex and violence (ideally, we’d like to combine the two). We’re more like Jack Nicholson from Five Easy Pieces than Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 500 Days of I Have No Balls. While women drink mimosas with the girls and take Instagram photos of their manicured toes; men isolate, hibernate, and look at photos of Suicide Girls. Women who get ‘dumped’ or agree to a mutual break-up (history has never recorded a genuine mutual break-up) eat chocolate cake and go dancing; men, the real red-blooded ones, will start an impromptu fight on the basketball court and drink large amounts of whiskey, alone. Rebounds for women tend to be a new boyfriend – someone that “understands them” or supports their hobby. For men, a rebound is either a basketball statistic or having sex with a stranger in the backseat of a muscle car. Women change their Facebook relationship status (ouch); men delete their Facebook, get a tattoo, and take up a very dangerous hobby like Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. We go to long baseball games, turn off our cell-phones, and never watch romantic-comedies. Women watch romantic-comedies and have a ‘good cry’ with the girls. Yuck.
Fair enough, this all sounds a bit insensitive. But let me be the first to say that men, myself included, never ‘get over’ a true love. Much like soldiers never forget about their fallen comrades, men don’t forget those special moments: the long walks, slow kisses, and scent of her hair on your pillow. However, unlike women, we don’t seek closure or approval from our friends. A break-up for an American male, believe or not, is a permanent wound that will never heal. Women, in contrast, will hold on to keepsakes of their relationships (unless he cheated on her). For a man, holding on to the past is too painful. Women tend to start dating the man they always dreamt about: their father, with muscles and money. Men don’t fantasize about their parents – we simply go after the first girl that wants to have sex and loves bowling. We never remember the ex-girlfriend’s birthday, don’t care about her career aspirations, and could care less about her puppy (living or dead). It might sound cruel, but men seek complete isolation that leads to a triumphant return to life as a bachelor. Women, God bless them, are strangled by the noose of nostalgia and love old photos. Men, possessed by the Devil, strive to destroy their old relationship and create a new one that hurts even more. We are masochists and somehow find virtue in the break-up bloodsport.
Malcom X said it best: “Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”